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1990 Camry
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Hi folks. I recently acquired a 1999 Camry with low miles for its age, about 45K. It has a power driver's seat that is giving me trouble. Both the front to back, and recline controls will only move the seat a very little bit. It's not totally dead on either. When you move the switch, you can hear the motor, and it will move a little, but it won't travel as far as it should. The front to back only moves back a little bit, and the recline barely moves it off vertical.

I downloaded a factory service manual and looked at it a little, but the trouble shooting procedures in there seemed oriented towards the situation where it doesen't move at all - check/replace the switch &/or check/replace the motor.

I guess I'm showing my ignorance here, but it seems to me that since it moves some that both the switch and motor are working.

Anybody seen this problem before? Anyone Know how to fix it?

Any help is appreciated.
 

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Check the driven cables that go from the motors to the mechanisms. On my old Volvo, I ended up lubing the cables with high temp grease, and then even going so far as to trim a bit of the sheathing from the ends, so the cable ends bottomed out in the housings at both ends. Never had a problem with it after that. The cable tend to go dry over time, then they bind up in the sheathing. Make sure to lube your seat tracks as well.
 

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1997 Camry Power Seat repair info

I had a similar problem with the power seat slide adjust with a 97 Camry XLE. I moved the seat most of the way forward to put something in the back seat and it wouldn’t slide back (driving with my knees in my face was not fun!). I spent hours looking on the internet and monkeying with this problem. Since I couldn’t find much info on this I thought I would post what I learned.

The possible problems appear to be switch, motor, or gearing. The service manual appears to discuss only the first two issues. The switch is ca. $120 (new) and is easy to change out if needed. The plastic control knobs appear to simply snap on/off (a little scary, but mine didn’t break – your mileage may vary) and you have to remove a little plastic trim. I pulled the switch and disassembled it (disassembly will probably cause the contacts to fall out of position, but it is fairly easy to figure out how it goes back together – basically there are some plastic posts that manipulate the contacts, which simply drop into some slots below the posts). The switch appears to be simple and robust, I would be surprised if it fails very often. If you pull the seat (four 14 mm bolts and you will also have to disconnect a couple of wire connectors) it is fairly easy to switch the slide (most forward motor) and tilt (middle) motors (two ¼ inch hex screws each) if you think you have a motor problem and want to test. A new motor is ca. $375 dollars. The slide and tilt motors connect to what appear to be plastic gear boxes on either side of the seat using a ca. 1/8 inch square metal drivers that slide through heavily lubricated tubes. If you swap the motors you will have to properly reseat the driver posts – a little tricky but not too bad. The plastic gear boxes interface with robust metal screws that move the seat. I suspect the plastic gear boxes are the cause of most problems (just great that the service manual doesn’t discuss!). I am not sure how to get to the gear boxes. There is apparently a large Torx drive bolt that needs to be removed to get into the track assembly, but I lacked the proper size Torx bit and didn’t go further.

In my case the switch and motors were fine. The plastic gear boxes do not appear to be sold separately (boo, Toyota) and the track assembly is ca. $1000 new (yikes !!!). At this point I was at a bit of a loss, but planned to get the proper Torx bit to go further. However prior to this I used a hammer to lightly tap the gear boxes. When I tapped one of the end caps that seal the driver rod/gear box interface it seemed to slide in slightly and when I reassembled everything the slide lurched a bit and started to move. It now moves both forward and back. I'm not sure it sounds quite a smooth as it should, however, so there may be something broken in the gearbox (chipped plastic tooth?). I was able to slide the seat back to its normal position and at this point plan to adjust it as little as possible.

Hope this helps someone.
 

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99 Camry Le "Goldie"
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well as luck has it i have a 99 le with power driver seat, id be happy to shoot some video of back and forth and up and down for comparison purposes to see if yours is as smooth as mine or not? (mine has 111k)
 
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